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15 nights in Croatia and Slovenia—itinerary advice needed!

15 nights in Croatia and Slovenia—itinerary advice needed!

Old Mar 17th, 2024, 02:07 PM
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15 nights in Croatia and Slovenia—itinerary advice needed!

Hello! My partner and I and another couple are heading to Croatia and Slovenia in late May. We all fly into Dubrovnik, and our friends are flying home from Ljubljana 15 days later. (My partner and I may tack on a day or two there or head to Zagreb to leave from there.)

We are thinking that we might want to base ourselves in 5 places over the course of the trip, staying 3 nights in each. We want to have time to relax and explore—we are particularly interested in natural beauty, history, and good food (and wine!). And we like to be pretty active, working in some hikes and maybe bike rides. So we want to find bases that would make it possible to do some nice day trips.

We are starting with 3 nights in Dubrovnik, and then I’m thinking 3 nights somewhere beyond Split, maybe Sibenik or Zadar, then 3 nights in Rovinj, then 3 nights somewhere lovely in Slovenia (Lake Bled? Lake Bohinj?), then finally 3 nights in Ljubljana. We are thinking we won’t try to make it to Plitvice Lakes because we aren’t early morning people and are put off by what we’ve read about crowds there. And there are so many other places that sound beautiful, such as Krka.

I would be grateful for feedback on this itinerary. In particular, I’m wondering whether, given the attractions along the Dalmatian coast, we should forgo Istria. Rovinj sounds lovely, as do some of the hill towns, but would 3 days in the area be too rushed? An alternative might be to spend some time in Korcula or another island. We’d also be very open to getting off the beaten path, maybe exploring the Losinj and Cres islands. And if it makes sense to include some shorter stays on the trip in order to explore some more remote areas, well, that’s an option too. Our trip is so soon that we don’t have a lot of time to ponder options…but at the same time I’m comforted by the thought that wherever we go, we will likely have a wonderful time!
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Old Mar 17th, 2024, 06:13 PM
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I think Plitvice is stunning and very unique and worth visiting. I can’t imagine going to Croatia and not visiting Plitvice. But everyone is different about their priorities. You don’t really have to be up very early to see Plitvice. For example, we arrived in the afternoon and started hiking the upper lakes by 4PM. Took about 2 hours. Stayed overnight at Plitvice Miric Inn. The next morning we were on the trail by 9 or 9:30am to hike the lower lakes. Crowds really weren’t too bad. We left Plitvice around noon.

We didn’t go to Rovinj but I understand it is a long drive there. If it were me, I would choose to spend a few nights on Korcula or Hvar or another island. We spent 4 nights in Split (which is gorgeous) and spent a day on Hvar. Hvar and Korcula are easy to get to.

BTW, Zagreb is a very interesting city, too, and is very different from Dubrovnik, Split and Ljubljana so you get a nice variety of places by adding on Zagreb.

If you wish, you can click on my name to read my trip report from September 2019. I included a few photos if that will help you decide.
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Old Mar 18th, 2024, 05:21 AM
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Thanks so much for your feedback, KarenWoo! I just read through your trip report—wow, such a wealth of information and I will share it with my traveling companions! We really are on the fence about Plitvice; it sounds like an amazing place, it’s just that making a commitment to go there means driving a distance out of the way and gambling on the weather. But perhaps the upside makes it worth it…we’ll ponder.

It is indeed a long drive to Rovinj, about 5 hr from Split. Then we’d need do a fair amount of driving on day trips to see the hill towns. So we might reconsider going there. Perhaps we can replace it with a few days in a place like Opatija, from which we could also visit a few of the hill towns. But I have to say that the itinerary you followed is very appealing!

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Old Mar 18th, 2024, 07:30 AM
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We went to Croatia last May for about 2 weeks. I second the suggestion to go to Plitvice. Worth one night even if you hate one night stays. We stayed at a park hotel for convenience not ambiance.

We spent three full days in Split and found it too much (so we did day trips). Even though Dubrovnik is considered the over-touristed place, we found Split even more so. Three nights is right for Dubrovnik which we enjoyed depsite crowds. We stayed on Korcula and May 31-June 2 was too cool for water activities, so two days was more than enough there. We enjoyed Rovinj, even though it is another place croweded with tourists but not far for day trips to several places within an hour or so drive. But be aware parking is difficult. We had a hotel in the pedestrian area to which we were allowed to drive and the hotel then parked the car. We either walked to it or took a buggy ride when we needed it.

We spent just an afternoon in Sibnek and are not sure we would have found longer interesting (but you could visit Krka from there if you elect to skip Plitivice. You should definitely go to one of them. We skipped Krka due to weather.) We spent two nights in Zadar and found it more "real" than some other places, although it stil had plenty of tourists. There are some interesting off the beaten track places (e.g. Nin and Pag) that we enjoyed visiting from there.

As to routing, we drove from Korcula (well, there is a ferry involved) to Sibnek (spent a few hours) and then Zadar, where we stayed all in one day, and it was not to much even for us "oldsters". From Zadar we drove to Plitvice, where we arrived late morning. We were able to complete (most of) both circuits that day and left the next morning for Rovinj (had expected to spend the morning at Plitvice, but it was raining). That was about a 3.5 hour drive if I recall. So I don't think it is too far from there, although it would be a long drive from Split. We drove from Rovinj directly to the Zagreb aiport which was a much quicker drive than our phone map said and we got there an hour early!

If you send me a private message, I would be happy share the photo blog for our trip.
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Old Mar 19th, 2024, 09:42 AM
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Sibenik is a wonderful location for 3-4 days, it has some very interesting sites, a nice beach promenade, numerous restaurants, cafes, and shops, and a very easy day trip to Skradin (itself a wonderful town in which we found very few crowds in May), where you take the boat to the Krka Waterfalls. Absolutely stunning scenery. Zadar and Nin together make an easy day trip from Sibenik. The beautiful town of Primosten is less than an hour from Sibenik. Across Sibenik Bay are several islands with numerous hiking trails.
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Old Mar 19th, 2024, 03:27 PM
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Thank you, mike1728 and traveler318, for your insights! Mike, it’s great to hear that you liked Sibenik. It looks like a wonderful and convenient location and might be a good replacement for Rovinj. It’s not far from Split, which could potentially be a day trip. Or did your itinerary include time in Split as well?

Traveler318, I sent you a PM. It would be wonderful if you could share your photo blog!
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Old May 9th, 2024, 03:57 AM
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Zadar is a nice city to visit, as well as Ljubljana. However, you may want to do some day trips from Ljubljana to somewhere else, like Lake Bled, Vintgar or Postojna Cave. 3 nights in Ljubljana are absolutely fine as the city is worth exploring. There are multiple places to check out and cafes where you can try local food and wine (and not only). However, Slovenia has a lot of natural attractions and hiking trails, so it may be a good idea to spend at least one day exploring them. For Lake Bled, as for me, three nights are a bit too much. One or two would be more than enough.
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